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NHL Anaheim DucksWinnipeg Jets

After A Good Start, Winnipeg Jets Suddenly On A Downward Spiral

Winnipeg Jets Struggling

Robert Mayer – USA TODAY Sports

An embarrassing 8-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night will hopefully be the low point of the Winnipeg Jets’ season. It was the team’s third straight loss, despite averaging three goals per game over that stretch. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec had his worst outing of the season, and was pulled after allowing five goals on 14 shots. Backup Al Montoya didn’t fare any better, allowing three goals on 11 shots. In a shootout loss to the Boston Bruins and wins over the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, Pavelec had been star of the game three times, allowing just three goals. Montoya got a hard-fought overtime win against the New York Islanders (his former team) in the game that followed. Winnipeg is now 3-4-1, and that four-game stretch is the only time this season they have managed any points.

The loss to the Lightning came on the heels of a Thursday night loss to the Florida Panthers, in which Pavelec allowed six goals. The Montreal Canadiens also got a win against the Jets last week, outlasting them 4-3. Winnipeg now has the second-worst mark in the league in goals allowed, and the league’s worst penalty kill. Opponents have converted over 40 percent of their power play chances against the Jets in their first eight games – Tampa Bay converted three of five chances on Friday.

The team has clearly missed Dustin Byfuglien the past two games, and there is no word yet on when their star defenseman will return. Byfuglien is a great special teams player, and the team will get a boost when he returns from a “lower body injury.” This unfortunate losing streak falls during one of the busiest parts of the 2013 schedule for the Jets, as they now travel home to face the Panthers (Tues.) and Toronto Maple Leafs (Thu.), before heading back out on the road to face the Ottawa Senators (Sat.). Coach Claude Noel has a lot of things to figure out in a short period of time, who can only improve the rest of the season.

Jonathan Katje is an NHL blogger for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JKatje or add him to you network on Google.